Category Archives: Essential Articles

Posts of the essential articles for playground funding, planning, design, installing and maintaining your playground and site amenities.

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Playground Planning: The Definitive Guide to Planning a Commercial Playground for Your Church, School, Daycare, Neighborhood, or Public Park

playground equipment postingWhether it’s a church playground, school playground, daycare, or a neighborhood public park, each outdoor playground requires significant planning to maximize your funds.  Playground planning should recognize that each playground experience is unique to each child, and each commercial playground is unique in its site features, layout, design components, and visual appeal.  Also See 14 Layout Considerations for Your Playground.  The cycle consists of the following:

Community: Playground Planning: top

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5 Ways to Save Thousands When Buying Your Playground Equipment

Stretching your playground equipment budget:

Commercial Playground Equipment Blue over Rubber Playground Surfacing_620x350Buying playground equipment requires a wealth of resources including funds and manpower.  With some commitment from your local community, you can save thousands with these tips. Here’s how your playground equipment budget will normally be allocated by percentage with a typical turn-key project:

Description Percentage
Equipment 60%
Installation 28%
Playground Borders 7%
Mulch/In-fill 10%
Taxes/Shipping 5%
Total 100%
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How To Compare Playground Designs

Comparing your playground designs

Be sure your playground incorporates as many play experiences as possible.  Remember, it isn’t always the number of play events that are on a play structure that make it a good value, but the value of the play itself.

Comparing your playground equipmentAs an example, let’s compare Playground A vs.  Playground B

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Playground Planning: Include These “7 Zones” To Create a Balanced Playground Environment

Before choosing the actual layout for your playground, it’s helpful to have an overall plan or design for the placement of furnishings.  You will want to organize the space in a way that will promote physical and social play while minimizing conflicts.  The following is called the zoned approach and was outlined in Esbenson in his book “The Early Childhood Playground: An Outdoor Classroom”. Similar to the way a classroom is arranged  into specific areas or centers, small groupings of functionally separate outdoor play areas called zones can enrich children’s interaction with the equipment, nature, adults, and one another.  Instead of having one large, central structure that attempts to provide a variety of experiences and activities for children, each zone includes several smaller, related activities and pieces of equipment. This allows more active play areas to be separated from areas that involve less noisy creative of manipulative activities and can help minimize the tendency for louder, bigger boys to dominate a play structure.
Esbenson outlines seven distinct zones:

1. Transition zone: The area between your building and the playground or between different play zones.  This area allows children time  and space to decide where they want to go as they enter the playground.  This can include open space, or seating areas. Items to consider: picnic tables and benches, Shade Structures, Picnic Shelters, Bleachers. Continue reading

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14 Layout Solutions for your Playground Design

Bonded Rubber Playground Surfacing1. Organize zones to facilitate play and minimize conflicts, e.g. locate quiet play areas away from active spaces

2. Provide areas that encourage group interaction as well as places from solitary and partner play

3. Avoid putting high-activity zones close to transitional zones

4. Locate compatible play zones close together, e.g. creative play and social play can be placed adjacent

5. Design all play zones for child-initiated activity

6. Locate play areas for toddler and areas involving quiet, creative activities near the entry to building

7. Use low, natural partitions and different surfacing materials to define zones, i.e. EWF hardwood fibers around swings, and pour-in-place rubber surfacing around the playsystem

8. Use space wisely, leaving some areas open. Cluttered playground detracts from children’s explorations and cause injuries

9. Plan zones to take advantage of any prominent or unusual elements, e.g. physical area around a sloped designed for running

10. Be sure that equipment landscaping do not interfere with visual supervision. Adults must have a clear line-of-sight

11. Retain as many existing trees, shrubs, and other landscaping as possible.

12. Locate equipment away from dumpsters, heavy traffic and loud noises. Plant trees or build fences and visual barriers to block nuisances.

13. Make sure site is accessible for maintenance and emergency equipment

14. Use your imagination. Paint stones, create a mural, make hand prints in cement. Cue children through the color, shape and type of materials that this is their place to play.

The following was adapted from Tracy Theemes’ “Let’s Go Outside! Designing the Early Childhood Playground”

If you’re looking for a fundraising partner or program, don’t forget to review the Fundraising Resources pages on the top right tab.  If you are located in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, or North Carolina and would like assistance with designing your playground,  please contact us at www.korkat.com

Playground Maintenance: 10 Things you Better Not Overlook

Playground Safety: 10 Maintenance Check Points on your Playground

  1. Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 9″ of loose-fill rubber, 9″ of certified EWF (Engineered Wood Fiber), 12″ of un-tested wood mulch; or include mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.
  2. Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends; in back and front; twice the height of the suspending bar.
  3. Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  4. Check for dangerous hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends. These can catch on clothing such as hoodies, or loose clothes.
  5. Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  6. Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  7. Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  8. Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls and the climbers have no more than a 15″ space to access/exit.
  9. Check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are in good condition
  10. Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they’re safe.

Above all, make sure your equipment is age-appropriate in  design.  Kids will challenge and regulate themselves during free play, and you’ll find that your “safe” low level platforms and climbers are being used inappropriately by older kids that aren’t being stimulated.

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page on the top right tab, for products and resource to help you with your playground fundraiser.  If you are planning a public playground project in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, or North Carolina and would like design advice, please contact us.